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Williamsport-Clear Spring Notebook

November 05, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

This time with meaning

Success brings expectations.

Those who are used to being on the positive side of the ledger probably don't notice that raising of the bar.

But the emotion of winning for the first time isn't lost on seniors on the Williamsport and Clear Spring football teams.

The two teams will meet tonight at 7 in the most meaningful 10th game of the season either team has experienced. The Wildcats will be gunning to finish with at least a .500 record for the first time in 10 seasons. The Blazers have the school's first-ever winning season and possible Maryland Class 1A West playoff berth at stake.

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But that isn't all. There is a sense of pride that goes to the seniors who spent most of their high school careers toiling in anonymity.

"I guess what I will never forget is that we never gave up," said Williamsport linebacker Kenny Frey. "It feels good with this being my senior year. This is what everyone wants their senior year to be like. It feels great being able to come back from being an underdog."

Underdog was a different breed to the seniors of these two teams. Neither group had the experience of winning three games overall, let alone a winning season, before this year.

"I haven't been in a playoff game since eighth grade," said lineman Dustin Violet. "When we won those three games in a row, we came together as a team. Then when we beat Bishop Walsh, that's when we started to feel like we could do it."

Clear Spring started the season with a 1-3 record and lost top running back Wes Jackson in the third week. Somehow, the Blazers turned it around, winning the next three -- emphasized by the win over Bishop Walsh -- to fight back to 4-3 and into playoff contention.

Williamsport started the season with a 4-1 record, but has lost its last four. The losses hurt, but the season is still rewarding.

"Everyone wants to go out and win," said Wildcats lineman Seth Boggs. "The seniors want to go out and win because for some of us, there might not be college and this will be the last game we play. We want to go out with a bang."

"I'm happy with what we've done, but I'm not satisfied," said Frey. "We were just a couple of plays from winning three more games."

And for some, this season makes them wish they were able to stay around for more.

"We feel like we have helped create a foundation here," said Clear Spring running back Jon Connors. "We did something for this program and showed we were not here just for teams to beat on us. The problem is now I wish things haven't gone so fast and I could stay here and play more."

The focal point

Wes Jackson was in line to have a huge year for Clear Spring.

It took a broken leg to change him from an offensive leader into a reluctant inspiration.

"I want to win this week especially for Wes," said Violet. "I have been playing with him since we were in fifth grade. Now, he's done (playing) unless he goes to college. He has been my inspiration."

After suffering a compound fracture in his right leg, Jackson has been on the sideline on crutches to cheer on the Blazers. That is only the tip of his contributions.

Before his injuries, Jackson's ability helped the Blazers improve on their offensive execution. With him, good blocks opened holes for big yardage. Now, those same blocks provide openings to allow replacement Mike Etzel to grind out yardage.

"Before the loss of Wes, we would make a block and he could break loose at anytime for a big gain. Now, we have to look for more than three- or four-play drives. We have to grind it out. Losing Wes made us more of a blue-collar mentality and the defense has had to step up."

It doesn't mean that the Blazers wouldn't love to have Jackson back for this game.

"Wes would kill to be out there," Bathgate said.

Common thread

Looking for something Smithsburg and Boonsboro have in common this season? How about a thrilling victory over Williamsport?

Boonsboro beat the Wildcats 28-21 on Oct. 9, scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter to get the win.

Smithsburg made their win over the Wildcats even more dramatic, scoring on the final play of the game to claim a 26-21 victory last week.

"Williamsport was inspired, they really came after us in that game," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "I was kind of disappointed in the fact that we really only played one quarter in that game, but Williamsport went after it.

"Randy (Longnecker) has really done a nice job over there. Those kids have bought in and they're having some success."

Anders, too, has been impressed with the turnaround the Wildcats have made.

"Buddy said after their game he felt bad for Williamsport, but he wasn't giving back the win," Anders said. "I think I felt the same way after our game, because Williamsport really did play so well. The game just turned so quickly."

Double feature

Williamsport enters tonight's game on a four-game losing streak.

But coach Randy Longnecker has a plan to get the Wildcats in the right frame of mind by using some home movies.

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